Vegetable platters have long been the meatless option for gatherings and parties. The typical veggie platter involves celery, broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes with hummus or some kind of creamy dip on the side. As much as I enjoy crunching away on colorful crudités, it’s time to breathe new life into the veggie entertaining spread. Let me introduce you to my friend: vegan charcuterie. Nope, not an oxymoron thanks to the abundance of plant-based meat and cheese alternatives available on the market nowadays.
Traditionally, charcuterie focuses on meat and cheese with sweet and sour accompaniments to balance the saltiness and richness. In this vegan version, you take the very same approach, but without animal products. The result is an delicious assortment of flavors, textures, and colors. A vegan charcuterie board makes a great centerpiece at your summer get together, and thanks to the variety of ingredients, there’s something to satisfy everyone.
How to Make A Vegan Charcuterie Board
Making a vegan charcuterie board is easier than it looks once you’ve gathered all your ingredients. Since you don’t need very much of each ingredient, a vegan charcuterie board is a great way to use up odds and ends from your kitchen. Got half an apple leftover from your morning smoothie? Slice it up and include it in your charcuterie board.
When picking ingredients, I imagine how I would layer the items to create a tasty bite. For example, I always enjoy a good cheese, cracker, and jam combo. The flavors of the vegan cheese I’m using will influence what type of jam I decide to include on the board. The graphic designer in me also picks ingredients based on what colors I’d like to display on the board.
Below are some of the different ingredients I use when making a vegan charcuterie board. A good rule of thumb is to start with one ingredient from each category, then add on more ingredients depending on the size of the board you’re using.
What a time to be alive! With so many vegan meats on the market, it can be hard to decide what to use. When I’m building a vegan charcuterie board, I go for deli slices and sausages from Tofurky or Field Roast. Both brands happen to be based here in the Pacific Northwest, and they’re pretty much available at any grocery store.
There’s nothing fake about something that didn’t come from an animal. I think of tofu, tempeh, and seitan as the trinity of vegan meats, and while they may seem like specialty items at the typical American grocery store, I grew up on all three while living in Asia.
You can’t have a charcuterie board without cheese. Some of my favorite store bought cheeses include: Daiya farmhouse blocks, Miyoko’s cheese wheels, Field Roast Chao blocks, Kite Hill cream cheese, Treeline soft cheeses, Violife blocks. If you’re lucky enough to live in Portland, we have plenty of local options, including Vtopian and Vtopia Cheese Shop. It’s also not that hard to make your own nut-based cheese!
Bread & Crackers
Water crackers, crusty baguette, breadsticks, toasted crostini… the options are endless when it comes to bread and crackers. Use whatever strikes your fancy or happens to be in your kitchen. There’s no need to make a special trip to the store just for some crackers.
Spreads & Dips
I love a good creamy hummus, but when I’m making a vegan charcuterie board, I tend to steer clear of it because veggies and hummus as the vegan option is seriously overdone. Instead, I prefer mushroom pate, olive tapenade, or a spreadable vegan cream cheese.
Fruit & Vegetables
With all the decadent flavors and textures going on, fruit and veggies are a must. Not only do they help lighten things up, they also provide a stunning pop of color on your charcuterie board. My favorites include fresh berries, sliced apples, berry jam, grapes, and cucumbers. I also like to include some mixed nuts for a little crunch.
There are no rules when building a vegan charcuterie board, so feel free to throw what you’d like into the mix. Salted popcorn? Chocolate covered pretzels? Why not?!
Picking Your Board
We’ve all seen those epic charcuterie spreads on Instagram, but unless you’re hosting a big party, you really don’t need such a large board. Most of the ingredients are rich and filling, so a little of everything goes a long way. Here’s how I typically decide which board to use:
- Small: 9 x 9 inch circle, 6-8 ingredients, 2-4 people
- Medium: 15 x 8 inch rectangle, 8-12 ingredients, 6-8 people
- Large: 16 x 12 inch rectangle, 12+ ingredients, 8+ people
Assembling Your Board
Now it’s time for the fun part, other than eating, of course! Treat the bare wooden board as a canvas and layer up all the ingredients to your liking. Below is my tried and true process for quickly arranging a vegan charcuterie board, but you might find something else that works for you.
Step 1: Arrange Bowls & Jars
Arrange any bowls and jars on the board, leaving plenty of space in between them. I opted for a triangular arrangement in the example below.
Step 2: Frame The Board
Next, I frame the board with crackers and/or bread, spreading them out slightly. Having the crackers/bread at opposite corners makes them easily accessible from either side.
Step 3: Meats & Cheese
Since meat and cheese are the star of the charcuterie board, I like to place them in near the middle of the board with some space around them. I try to avoid putting ingredients of the same color next to each other. For example, I wouldn’t put a light colored cheese directly next to the water crackers.
Step 4: Fill In The Blanks
Last, but not least, add your fruits and veggies! You can tuck them in between other ingredients, fill in odd spaces, and add pops of color to your board. Finish with cheese knives and serving spoons, as needed. You don’t have to fill in every little bit of blank space, but I think we’d all agree that a full board is more impressive and photogenic. ;)
Show Me Your Vegan Charcuterie Boards on Instagram!
Pretty, delicious, and cruelty-free, a vegan charcuterie board is perfect for any gathering. Have fun mixing and matching different flavors! I can’t wait to see what you create. Tag @waz.wu on Instagram if you make your own vegan charcuterie board!